A ‘Telling Off’ From Mater

In his 1970s/80s children’s TV show Record Breakers, the amiable late entertainer Roy Castle closed the show with a song telling viewers of the dedication required to attain world records.

If memory serves me correct, the first few lines of the lyrics taught the younger brood ‘Dedication, dedication, dedication. That’s what you need. If you want to be the best. If you want to beat the rest, dedication’s what you need……’ A catchy wee ditty, the tune was delivered with the aim of inspiring children into striving for excellence in their chosen field.

As much as I liked the show, I didn’t have the drive Roy sung of, or indeed any aspirations to be a record breaker. When I wasn’t at school, I just wanted to play football and cricket on Allerdene field in Low Fell, or shuffle Subbuteo players and commentate on the ensuing table top soccer game.

Despite his elder sibling’s indifference towards anything unrelated to football, cricket and Subbuteo my younger brother Ian did become a child record breaker……… Yes, he broke one of my vinyl Who albums by using it as a frisbee. In fact, during that incident, he also became a china vase breaker, along with a light bulb breaker.


In an attempt to avoid his customary rollocking, the incident led to my brother’s very dedicated evasion of our mum. In retrospect, I’d wager Roy Castle would’ve been heartened to see at least one of his viewers embracing his dedication advocacy.

Admittedly, it wasn’t the record breaking and dedication the Huddersfield born entertainer was advocating, but nevertheless our Ian became pretty adept at dodging mater and the subsequent admonishment.

Not that telling off was a strong enough word to describe scolding from our mother. For one, it doesn’t do justice to it’s Sgt Major like furious delivery. If Ian had have spouted the self-entitled ‘I have rights’ tripe favoured by today’s youth, he’d have had a hotline to Childline….. Well he would if the child telephone counselling service existed then.

Not that our mother was cruel, I hasten to add. We’d great parents, but in the days of raising her children she did what most mums did back then…… A verbal rollocking in association with a smacked ass. If my siblings or me utilised profanity (whether we were aware of it being a curse word, or not) we had the extra punishment of being sent to our rooms.

Being sent to your room in the 70s/80s was a proper punishment, unlike now where that place of exile is the kid’s favourite room of the house. A utopian domain of devices, gadgets and social media, away from the older people downstairs who are ‘ruining’ their childhood with unfair demands and expectations.

Not long after moving from Leeds to Gateshead, while a young child, my brother arrived back at our modest Leech built semi-detached home covered from head to toe in builders sand……. To clarify, Leech was the name of the company who constructed the estate; our new home wasn’t built by segmented invertebrates.

As my sand covered sibling, white of hair and blue of eye, walked through our back door he was stopped in his tracks on confronting the apoplectic figure of our mother. The conversation that followed went something like this:-

Mum (angrily) – “Bloody hell, Ian….. Look at the state of you!…… What the hell have you been doing?”

Ian (sheepishly) – “I’ve been playing in builders sand, mum.”

Mum (No calmer) – “I can bloody see that!…. You look like a walking sand castle…..Get to your room!”

Ian (puzzled) – “But mum I’ve not swore. Why do I have to go to my room?”

Mum (annoyed at authority being questioned) – “Because I said so!”

Ian (foolishly) *** – “But mum that breaches family co-habiting legislation section 4, subsection 3.1. This specifically states:- ‘Punishment of exile to bedroom can only be administered for the use of profanity. Any exceptions have to be ratified by a second adult house dweller, or anyone called Grenville’…… You’ll have to wait until dad gets back, or ring uncle Grenville before you can banish me upstairs.”

Mum (Very annoyed) – “You cheeky little bugger!….. Get upstairs!”

Ian (pushing it) *** – “But mum, you’re running roughshod over ancestral by-laws that have successfully kept family order for generations. You don’t have a mandate to enforce your decision. I can only banish me to my room for swearing, which I’m not guilty of!…… If you insist I go to my room, I’ll have no option but use habeas corpus to reclaim my liberty…… Additionally, I think you perhaps need to address your childcare practises!”

Just as mum looked as though she was going to spontaneously combust, her brother walked through the back door of our home.

Mum (surprised but delighted to see him) – “Hi Grenville, you’ve arrived just in time.”

Ian (realising the game was up) – “Oh bollocks!”…….. Then, leaving a trail of sand in his wake, headed towards the staircase on his journey up to his room.

***    Our Ian as a young child obviously didn’t use those exact words, I have utilised artistic licence to incorporate the dialogue I’d have loved him to have proffered…… My mum’s reaction to being told by one of her children “Additionally, I think you perhaps need to address your childcare practises!” would’ve been priceless, but probably for all the wrong reasons!!

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